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The art of architects

Carlo Giorgetti has a lot to be pleased about this year. He is in his mid seventies, and has watched his family’s furniture company Giorgetti evolve over the years to become a company of contemporary furniture with a talented team of select designers, a family of their own, creating pieces that are elegant, timeless, and …

Carlo Giorgetti has a lot to be pleased about this year. He is in his mid seventies, and has watched his family’s furniture company Giorgetti evolve over the years to become a company of contemporary furniture with a talented team of select designers, a family of their own, creating pieces that are elegant, timeless, and relevant.

This year, he also debuts a personal design for the first time in 15 years.
Professor of architect Massimo Scolari and his one-time student, architect Chi Wing Lo, have both been artistic directors of the brand. They are modern day renaissance men: architects and artists in the old fashioned sense, talented artists who eschew computers to design by hand. Each man is a jack of all trades and master of many.

Scolari is an art historian, sculptor and painter whereas Lo a talented artist and practicing architect whose work is regularly featured in international design magazines. Scolari’s architectural designs for the new Cairo museum project came in third during the call for designs, a loss prompted by jury politics. It seems it was a loss he would have rather gained, so enamored by ancient Egyptian architecture, it was perhaps a desire on his part to pay homage to a civilization and architectural philosophy that has so clearly influenced his own work and perspective on design.

“It’s not a question of relation between art and design but it’s a question of having something to say,” says Scolari. “If you don’t have ideas, if you have nothing to say you produce commercial repetition which is the general majority of design. …you have to start at the opposite, finding someone who has something to say.”

Their respective backgrounds and training in architecture served as the perfect breeding ground for furniture design, though never formally trained. Scolari’s Norma Letto bed debuted at the Milan Furniture Fair this year, as did Lo’s Ian desk and the Nea partitioned bookshelf, amongst other designs. The Norma bed is all about the play of the proportions of the headboard to the rest of the bed, it’s austerity in embellishment of any sort contrasted with its visual impact due to the apparent thickness of the headboard.

Lo’s Ian desk is a sleek number, so understated from its light color to the delicateness of its legs. The Nea bookshelf also carries on with the theme of understated delicacy, and Lo explains that the bookshelf is not intended for the cluttered accumulation of books and objects, but an arrangement of organized minimalism. With so much space, Lo is asking us to look not at what rests on the bookshelf, but at Nea itself. With a contrast of light woods, the Nea would be a beautiful addition to one’s living room, and so easy to incorporate too.

Somehow, pieces from Giorgetti maintain their spirit years later. It is not only a question of relevance and of aesthetics, but of the materials and the manner in which they are used that makes the company’s pieces so coveted.

“We all believe in the basic fundamental values of material, and I think that ties too together in our furniture and our friendship. We share that value in furniture, and our life,” says Chi Wing Lo. Though a number of designers design for Giorgetti, each piece somehow seems to compliment one another.

Carlo Giorgetti has signed his name to a new design, a chair named the Arabella; a collaborative effort between himself and architect and designer Massimo Scolari. The chair is an example of ergonomics at its best.

“I was thinking that it was not possible for the body of the person, to find the exact position of comfort. Why was one not able to make a chair that follows the position of the body of the person sitting? So I start thinking, more than fifteen years ago, but I never succeeded because I was arriving to some point where I was not able to continue,” says Carlo Giorgetti.

“Last June, I had the inspiration. I saw some beautiful woman in a magazine, wearing a corset, and I noticed this was following the body of the woman, and from this idea, when I woke up in the morning, I start to design and put down on paper and it was the right way, because one month later the chair was practically done.”

Says Scolari on the chair, “I was proposing 15 years ago an element that holds a chair, in wood, a flexible one, and at that time the factory was not ready for such an idea because it was classical, so the idea was dropped. In factory you propose ideas, and for some mysterious or evident reason the idea is dropped and then someone else can pick it up and say it’s not so bad. Carlos started to elaborate this idea, and complete this technical system of flexible element in steel instead of wood. At this point when we had a more clear solution, we start to work on the design also, and so it’s a kind of collaboration in this case more complicated than the usual one because one started the idea, then dropped it then someone else picked it up.”

The Arabella chair is very modern in form, with a back that rises on one side higher than the other. The line is so sensual as it curves upwards, and one’s eyes are forced to move along those curves when admiring the chair. The technology inside the chair that allows for flexibility and comfort are a series of flexible rods, and Giorgetti explains they are like fingers, moving accordingly to cradle the sitter. And he is right. Sit and slouch, or else uprightly prim and proper, the chair holds one so gingerly and comfortably.

The chair has already met with much success. “Anything at the Milan fair is never placed in shops before the Milan fair,” says Art of Form President Shaden Abdel Hak. “We had the Arabella chair at the opening of Art of Form at Gouna; I was there at the presentation of the chair in Milan a few weeks earlier, and I told them on that day I want it and I want it in yellow and I want it by plane because I’m opening Gouna next week and it came and was sold the first day.”



The Ian desk by Chi Wing Lo.



The Nea bookshelf by Chi Wing Lo.

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